Read the Special Rapporteur’s FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON GHANA here!
On October 4, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E Mendez began his follow-up visit to Ghana with a Civil Society Roundtable event in Accra. The event was attended by representatives and advocates from more than 20 local organizations working on criminal justice reform, disability rights, and mental health issues. The visit will continue with meetings with high-level Government officials and visits to places of detention. The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference to present his preliminary findings at 3 PM local time in Accra on Wednesday, October 7, at the FAO Regional Office for Africa conference room (Block C) (adjacent the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, Ridge).
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TORTURE TO FOLLOW UP ON RECOMMENDATIONS IN KEY CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND MENTAL HEALTH AREAS DURING 2015 VISIT
The Special Rapporteur on Torture will conduct a follow-up visit to Ghana from October 4th to 7th to assess the implementation of the recommendations he issued after his initial visit in November 2013 (to read the 2013 report and recommendations please click here.) On his follow-up visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with key Government authorities and host a civil society roundtable to assess some of the critical issues in the criminal justice system, including conditions of detention and mental health-care practices, and the treatment and living conditions of persons held in psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps. The Special Rapporteur is hopeful that his second visit will assist the Ghanaian Government to address the remaining challenges it faces in the fight against torture.
Background on 2013 Ghana Country Visit
The Special Rapporteur concluded his first visit to Ghana on November 14, 2013, by issuing preliminary observations and recommendations during a press conference in Accra. In his first mission to sub-Saharan Africa, the Special Rapporteur spent a week visiting the Greater Accra, Central and Ashanti regions. During the visit, the UN independent expert sought to assess the situation on the ground and identify challenges concerning the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in Ghana by visiting places of detention and meeting with domestic authorities, civil society partners, international organizations, and victims and their families to address various aspects of his mandate, including domestic legislation on torture and ill-treatment and the potential establishment of a national preventive mechanism.
In a press release following the visit, The Special Rapporteur expressed deep concern about the situation of overcrowding and conditions in prisons, which amount to human rights violations and constitute forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He also found conditions in police stations, holding cells, and prayer centers across several regions to be be poor. The Special Rapporteur also found a lack of adequate medical care in all places of detention visited, including extremely poor standard of equipment, absence of qualified doctors, an apparent lack of medicine and limited medical screenings. The independent expert also urged the Government to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) as a matter of national urgency. While he did not receive complaints of mistreatment by prison staff, he noted that inter-prisoner violence remains a concern in some places of detention. The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the situation in psychiatric Hospitals in Accra and Ankaful, noting the lack of resources, the insufficient training and limited medication, and the fact that only 12 psychiatrists operate in Ghana, covering a population of over 25 million people.
The Special Rapporteur presented the final report on his visit to Ghana to the Human Rights Council in March 2014.